October 30, 2012

Being Over Prepared is Much Better Than Being Under Prepared

We like to complain around here. And I am sure I will be seeing comments on Facebook (especially from the younger set) about how the forecasters cried wolf. Except that these complainers would be wrong. We were very blessed in my part of the state. I saw a map of power outages. The towns with less than 10% power outages were nestled in the south central portion of the state, right where we live! The shoreline towns are a mess, and they continue to have to deal with flooding with every high tide. So WE were lucky, my family, our neighbors, our church family. And I am very grateful. Because I would rather be over prepared than under prepared, like last year when the snow storm hit one year ago. (I just got a code red alert - there are 75 homes in town without power.)

And we did fine. Our power went off about 8 times yesterday but came right back on every time. I am not putting the bottles of water and camping supplies away until tomorrow, however, since we still have some wind and the trees are weakened. Just in case.

But all is well. Thank you for your good wishes and your prayers, they are very much appreciated!


October 29, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday - Hurricane Sandy Edition!

Whew! We are on the outskirts of a hurricane and the wind is blowing! But, I still have electricity (so far), so here I am, ready to join in today! Please see Sandra's blog for more Happy Homemaker Monday.

The Weather
See above! Right now I can hear the wind more than see it, so it must be high because the trees are not moving around as much as the sound warrants. It is raining but it is not a heavy rain. My neck of the woods is not supposed to have tons of rain, our biggest threat is coastal flooding, so people on the shoreline had to evacuate. I am inland and 800 feet above sea level. My biggest threats are downed trees and loss of electricity. If you see my post below I talk more about our preparations.

Right Now I Am
Enjoying the electricity! I am tempted to make cookies, but I don't want to get stuck with the sticky cleanup should the electricity go off, so I won't. We have plenty of packaged treats to get us through. I am keeping my computer plugged in so that I start with a full battery once the electricity goes off. My daughter packed her things and moved next door to her BFF's house. My boys are in various parts of the house. School is closed today and tomorrow, and most likely longer. I am waiting for the cat to indicate that he wants to go outside, but he must sense that it is not a good idea! I turned up the thermostat in the house so we can have some warmth for the time being.

Of my blessings. We live in a small town (around 8,000). We have a red alert system, so the mayor has sent us three updates so far. The crews from the electric company are in town and ready to get to work as soon as the storm is over (Wednesday). Our fire house will open then and we can go there to take showers, get water, and charge our cell phones and computers. Our IGA grocery in town is open until 1 pm (the state is closing the highways at that time) and will reopen after the storm. They too will have charging stations. They have a generator so they will be open even if the power is out, and they have lots in stock. The mayor will let us know when they reopen the store. I have a church with a membership that takes care of one another. If I have any problems or need anything, I can call any number of people to get the help that I need. And, most importantly, I have family around. My parents and sister are close (within 20 minutes). We check on each other during the day. My dad's health is compromised, so he is the one we are most concerned with - he gets cold easily. And, my husband's brother and parents are within an hour of us, and they both have generators wired to the house, so if we are without electricity for an extended period of time, it is worth the trip for a hot shower and a hot meal! And lastly, and most important, I have the Lord. I had a training class yesterday for my seminary teaching and I wasn't going to go because I had to prepare for the hurricane, but my friend talked me into going with her. I am so glad I did. It was a spiritual boost and a perfect way to prepare my psyche for the days ahead. 

On My Reading Pile
I have lots of books on my Kindle, which is fully charged, plus lots of paper books downstairs, so I will be taking advantage of the opportunity I now have to read! Will share what I am reading when the time comes!

On My TV
My husband picked up The Innkeepers yesterday. It was filmed in a city north of us, which was really the only reason to watch it. We have The Village and STILL have We Bought a Zoo. A lot of what is playing on my tv, however, is the news.

On the Menu for This Week
I cooked up most of my chicken that I had in the freezer (the rest can be grilled), so we will be eating a LOT of chicken. I shredded it and mixed some with salsa - I don't have any tortillas though, but we do have chips and rolls to eat it on. The other half I mixed with bbq sauce. The rest of our meals will be eating up the foods in our freezer. We have individual frozen pizzas, which we can heat on the grill if need be, breaded fish fillets, tuna steaks, and some leftover foods in Foodsaver bags. After that we have easy mac, raman noodle soups, canned soups, rice, potato, and noodle packets that just require water. After that I have tons of rice, beans, quick cooking oats, instant potatoes, and even milk powder stored for emergencies, but I don't think we will have to get into that.

On My To-Do List
Wait it out! I actually get to relax and hang out. We are washing our dishes as we use them so we do not get stuck with a lot of dirty dishes to wash and no water to wash them with. I did all the laundry that I am going to do until the storm is over. The house is clean enough for now. I am sweeping as I go (the leaves keep coming in the house), so life is good!. Oh, I might take a chance on the cookie baking, because I have three eggs left that will have to get used. If the electricity doesn't flash off by the time my oven is heated, I am going for it!

What I am Creating
Do memories count?

Homemaking Tip
If you are expecting a power outage, cook up your raw meats and refreeze them. I would much rather have cooked meat thawing than raw. If you use the vacuum sealed bags, you can just heat them up in hot water. Oh, and I highly recommend a gas grill with a side burner, or some type of gas burner. If you have a gas stove, lucky you!

Looking Around the House
On my kitchen island there are gallon bottles of water for flushing, lanterns and candles ready to go, various camping supplies to make food prep easier. On my counter by the sink is a 5 gallon cooler of water (with a spout) for hand washing. In my garage is a stack of firewood. On my deck is my gas grill and an upside down patio table, both tied to the deck railings.

From the Camera
Tying down the table to prepare for the winds.

On My Prayer List
All of us in the path of Hurricane Sandy. And thank you, Sandra, and everyone else for your prayers. 

From the Bible
I hope you will indulge me here. I am a Latter-Day Saint and what I want to share with you comes from our modern revelation, but it is most appropriate for me right now.

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Sure it is good and important to have water, food, and wood stored and ready to use, but I am most grateful that I attended church and my seminary training yesterday, because spiritual preparation is most important. 

Have a great week everyone, and stay safe!

Preparing for a Hurricane

(this photo, courtesy of Google images, is of a home in my state after the hurricane of 1938)

We have been hearing that the devastation from Hurricane Sandy can be as bad, if not worse, as the hurricane of '38. I live inland, about 800 feet above sea level, and although there is a reservoir down the road from me, it is, in fact, down from me, as in downhill quite a bit. So, the biggest threats for my family are downed trees and power outages. My husband cut down some dead tree limbs yesterday, raked up the leaves (because it will be a lot harder if they are full of sticks), and piled lots of wood in our garage so it can stay dry. He works for the telephone company so I won't be seeing much of him for the next couple of days.

Now I do not claim to be an expert of anything, but I am learning as I go, and last year gave me two opportunities to learn when we lost power from a tropical storm and then a snowstorm.  We have well water, therefore we need electricity to pump water into our house, so when the power goes out, our access to water dries up, pun intended. So a lot of my preparation involves getting water ready. I cannot fill my bathtub because it doesn't hold water. So, we have a 5 gallon cooler with a spout that is holding water for hand washing. We have used milk and juice containers holding water for flushing the toilets (we have to pour the water into a bucket first, then pour the water into the toilet to flush it; the water doesn't come out of the containers fast enough to create the pressure necessary for flushing if we pour it directly into the toilet). We have gallon jugs of drinking water. We have refilled gallon jugs of water for dish washing and cooking. We have 20 oz. bottles of water for drinking. When all of that runs out, we have a pool where we can get more water for flushing, and our town's fire department, which has a huge generator, has a water supply we can use. Meanwhile I am running the dishwasher for the last time, after that we have to hand wash our dishes as we use them so we do not get stuck with a dishwasher full of dirty dishes once the power goes out. And, I am currently drying my last load of laundry, as I do not want to get stuck with soaking wet, half washed clothes sitting in my washer once the power goes out.

I have cleaned out my deep freezer and it is filled with plastic containers and used water bottles full of water for ice blocks to keep what food I have left cold after the power goes out.  I have a huge box of frozen pizzas from my warehouse store, so I went on-line and learned how to cook frozen pizzas on a gas grill (hint: you thaw them first, not a problem if the power goes out!). We have lots of cans of soup and other heat and eat foods, and other foods that just need water. I cooked what raw meat I had in the freezer, sealed it in bags and put the cooked meat back in the freezer; this way we just have to thaw the bag in hot water and eat. I have canned vegetables but can easily cook fresh veggies on the grill. Our grill has a side burner - best thing ever.

I am charging all of my devices tonight, whether they needed it or not. My phone can be charged in my car and we have a USB adapter for the other devices. We do have a generator but it is a pain to start and it doesn't last more than 45 minutes, and it is not hard wired into our house so we cannot run the furnace on it., but we can use it to recharge computers and such. We do have a fireplace and a kerosene heater that works pretty good. We have 20 degree sleeping bags (thanks to Boy Scouts) and lots of fleece sheets and blankets. I have long johns and fuzzy socks.  We have a portable radio with fresh batteries and battery powered lanterns, plus candles and flashlights.

Our biggest problem is showering, but we have friends with city water and a gas heater so we can go there. Our firehouse also has showers but they limit you to 2 minutes which is not enough time to wash hair!

It is quiet in the house - everyone has gone to bed but me, as I wait for the dryer to finish. I look forward to crawling into my warm bed, thanks to my electric blanket, for perhaps the last time for a few days. I'm hoping that we can keep our power until at least midday tomorrow, but I am really hoping that because of my preparations we do not lose power at all! It is not likely that we will be so lucky though. As I type this I can hear the wind gusts, but I do not hear any trees creaking, so that is a positive thing.

I hope everyone stays warm and stays safe. My prayers are with everyone who was, is, or will be in Sandy's path. God bless.


October 26, 2012

Ginger Glazed Carrots

The image comes from italicious.wordpress.com, but the recipe comes from Betty Crocker's Good and Easy  Cookbook.

These are super easy and super delicious.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

6 medium carrots, thinly sliced (I use my mandolin slicer so they are even thinner than in the photo above)
2 T packed brown sugar (isn't fun trying to pack brown sugar in a tablespoon?)
2 T butter
1/2 t ground ginger

In saucepan, barely cover carrots with water
Bring water to a boil, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender
Drain and set carrots aside
In same pot, melt and heat brown sugar, butter, and ginger, stirring constantly, until bubbly
Add carrots back to pot, stir and cook 2-4 minutes on low heat until carrots are glazed and hot.

Pumpkin Bread - Better Than Any Candle

(photo courtesy of Google Images)

When my husband and I were first married and looking for our first home, we spent more time shopping for a town than a house. We have never regretted our decision. It is a great small town. 

Our first street was U shaped, so sort of a cul-de-sac but not quite. It was a great street with great neighbors. One of our neighbors came over and brought us some pumpkin bread. She also gave me the recipe!  I still use it today because it is so good and makes your house smell like heaven, thus explaining the title of this post. As a matter of fact, my husband's car had a cracked windshield, and the repair couple came today to fix it in our driveway. When I opened the door to sign the paperwork, they started raving about the smell (and maybe hinting a little, and I would have given them some if I had actually thought of it while they were here - I'm a little slow sometimes).

Without further ado:

Makes one 9x5 inch loaf

1 1/2 C flour
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C pumpkin (I used canned)
1/2 C (thus one stick) butter (unsalted is better IMO), softened
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda (get mixed up between the two? have no fear, you need equal amounts of both!)
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger

Throw all ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well mixed.
Pour into a greased 9 x 5 inch baking pan (grease it with the wrapper from the stick of butter you used - easy!)
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes - check center with a toothpick
Cool in pan on a wire rack.


We are expecting lots of fun next week here in the Northeast - a hurricane mixed with snow? So I am doing some baking this weekend to make myself feel better because I most likely will be dealing with no power (and let's hope nothing worse than that) for a few days.

October 22, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday October 22

Go over to Sandra's blog for more Happy Homemaker Monday posts.

I missed last week. Can't remember now what was going on...oh yea, last Monday was the income tax extension deadline, so I was working.

The Weather
Cool, but sunny and beautiful.  I wish I could truly capture the scenes around me outside.  Many of the leaves have fallen, but there are still many bright and colorful leaves on the trees. As I drive around, I long for an opportunity to stop and photograph the beauty around me. It is truly spectacular.

Right Now I am
Waiting for a client to call me so we can finish up his bookkeeping for the last two years and get his tax returns prepared.

That I should work on my seminary lesson for tomorrow, but want to get this tax business done so I can be in the right frame of mind for spiritual learning.

On My Reading Pile
I have a serious problem. I love books, and have many on my Kindle waiting to be read. However, I have no time to read, so I need to just stop accumulating more!  I think I will skip this part of the post unless I actually read something. However, we have just started Mark in the New Testament, so that is where I am.

On My TV
We watched Disturbia this weekend, and I have instructions from my daughter to get it in today's mail so we can get another Netflix movie.  We still have We Bought a Zoo to watch.

On the Menu for This Week
Still have to make one and get to the grocery store. The good news is that most of the chlorine is out of my water and we can go back to a normal life, whatever that means! Tonight two of my boys are having dinner out with their cross country team. I have one plate of leftovers from last night, so that leaves dinner for two or three, depending on if my oldest is around. I will probably make one pound of pasta to feed the rest.

What I am Creating
Lesson planning for Mark chapter 2.

Homemaking Tips
Clean as you go! I make so many problems for myself because I easily become overwhelmed by housework, then I wait until it is at disaster level, and then I make a big project out of cleaning. I am trying now to clean as I go, especially because I am finding less and less time to devote to "project" cleaning. Every time I go into the bathroom I wipe the sink, toilet, mirror. Every time I go upstairs or downstairs I look to see if something needs to be carried to another floor. I am sure none of this is new to any of you, but I thought I would share anyway.

Looking Around the House
There are a few things to be put away, but my darling daughter cleaned the entire house on Saturday so there is not much to do. The washing machine is going, the sun is shining outside my windows, the dog is sleeping, as usual, and I am the only one home. It is quiet and peaceful.

From the Camera
My photos do not capture the true brilliance of the colors outside, but I do like the contrast of the tree trunk and the leaves behind it. 

On My Prayer List
My kids, a family in need.

Bible Verse
Every day we ask one of the students in seminary to share a scripture that has personal meaning to them. I feel like I get my chance when I participate here:

Mark 1:15 "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel."

As I get older and I see the temptations and adversity facing my children, I realize that we truly are in the last days, when we will have to make a choice to follow God or turn away. I am doing what I can to show them that following God is the way to true happiness, and learning for myself what it means to be a true disciple.

Have a glorious week!

October 8, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday October 8

Welcome to Happy Homemaker Monday! See Sandra's blog for more posts. I completely forgot about this today, since the kids are off from school I am a little off of my game (actually there are a LOT of reasons why I am off my game!).

The Weather
It is actually a little chilly here today - the high is 56 degrees. We have had a lot of gray days with rain here and there. If my youngest was home I would ask him to build a fire in the fireplace, but he may not be able to find some dry wood anyway. It is a perfect day for hot tea or cocoa.

Right Now I Am
Waiting for the well guy to come and raise the well head. He was supposed to be here at 11 am, then called and said it would be 1 or 1:30. It is now 2 pm and I am still waiting. Alas, such is the way of these things, isn't it? I could have done more laundry before my well pump is shut down.

I am also listening to classical music and the chatter of my foster son and his female friend who came over for the afternoon. My other kids are off doing things with friends, taking advantage of the day off and some much desired free time.

How much I am enjoying the peace and quiet. We have had such a crazy week and I appreciate the lack of activity today. But also lamenting how I cannot go out and get some much needed groceries due to the fact that I have two teenagers to supervise and a well guy to wait for.

On My Reading Pile
Just my scriptures and teaching manuals right now.

On My TV
Same as last week:  The Dead Poet's Society and We Bought a Zoo. We didn't get to these last week.

On the Menu for This Week
I have no idea because I don't know what I am in store for regarding my water situation. Monday is usually pasta night, but it may become take out pizza night this week!

On My To Do List
Besides waiting for the well guy and getting some groceries, tons of laundry, vacuuming, and bathroom cleaning, I have to do a follow up treatment on my youngest for head lice (which is not going to be easy if we have no water), fold and put away laundry, and prepare a lesson for tomorrow. Could be worse!

What I am Creating
Just lessons for my seminary class

Homemaking Tips
I learned this tip from another blog: I keep dish soap in a glass oil bottle on my kitchen counter. It is much nicer than having the plastic soap container sitting on there all of the time, or constantly having to reach under the counter for the soap. Although I also love Sandra's mason jar dispenser.

Looking Around the House
Sigh, there is always stuff to do, isn't there? Definitely a vacuuming is in order, but overall the house is in better shape than usual. I am taking it easy today, but have to clean all this week as I am having family over for my father's birthday on Sunday.

From the Camera
I had to play with the coloring of this photo - my camera does not capture the true colors of my leaves outside. This isn't accurate either - they are actually orange right now - my favorite color leaf!

On My Prayer List
Myself, actually, as I try to draw closer to Christ.

Bible Verse
Matthew 9:28-29: "And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it unto you."

These verses touched me when I read them, making me pause to reflect upon how much healing I could expect if it depended upon my faith. Something I feel I need to work on.

Have a great week!

October 1, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday October 1st

Go and see Sandra's blog for more Happy Homemaker posts.

It's been a rough night. Discovered at 10:30 pm that one of my sons has head lice. He is FOURTEEN and in HIGH SCHOOL. These things are not supposed to happen now! I went through this with my daughter three years ago - I attributed that to public use of the batting helmet because she was playing softball. I have no idea how this one got it. It is now 3:30 am and I am still up waiting on the bed linens in the laundry.

The Weather
Today will be in the mid to upper 60's. The rest of this week will be in the mid 70's but rainy. But, you know what is wonderful about the rain in the autumn? The yellows, reds, and oranges on the trees appear much brighter in the overcast, rainy weather. Those yellow leaves make you feel like the sun is shining even when it isn't.

On My Reading Pile
The New Testament and my student and teacher's manuals.
I have so many books on my Kindle - I am going to attempt to do at least some reading for pleasure, even if it is just a little at a time.

On My TV
We watched The Dead Poet's Society this weekend but we still have We Bought a Zoo. Next up is Young Frankenstein.

On This Week's Menu
I have pot roast in the fridge all cooked and waiting to be heated and eaten, so I know what we are having for dinner tonight, anyway. I haven't planned out the rest of the week.

On My To-Do List
Well, I did get a lot of cleaning and organizing done, and enlisted the kids' help yesterday, so even though there is still tons to do, it looks a lot better than it did around here.

However, just when you think things are falling into a groove...not only do I have head lice to contend with, but our well water had to be tested for our foster parent licensing and they found bacteria in our water, so now our well has to be chlorinated and our whole system flushed. The well guy is coming in the next 4-5 hours and I am still up waiting on laundry.  Also, our pool had to be inspected as well and we do not meet state regulations on the height of our gate leading from our deck to the pool. Now keep in mind, our foster child is 15 years old and about 5 foot 9 inches tall and he can swim. So later today, at a decent hour, I have to call the DCF worker and ask if an exception can be made, otherwise my husband is going to have to find time to completely reconfigure the gate. I also have to make appointments with the vet for our cat and dog because we have forms that have to be completed on the pets too. Oh, it's a fun procedure.

What I am Creating
Lessons for my seminary class

Homemaking Tips
I am drawing a blank.

Looking Around the House
I will only tell you about the good things. On my mantel I have pumpkin decorations and fall candles. Saturday I built two more (store bought, or boughten as they say in the Little House books) shoe organizer shelves. We now have a closet in our mudroom devoted entirely to shoes and umbrellas, oh, and the dog leash. My husband is going to hang hooks on the walls surrounding the bench in there to hang coats. The junk in the dining room is cleaned out and the fall dishes are displayed on the hutch. Most everything is picked up and organized.

The alarm on my phone went just went off. I am supposed to be getting up now to get ready for seminary. (I cancelled it for today knowing I would be up well into the night taking care of my son's hair.)

On My Camera

What my backyard trees are up to:

On My Prayer List
My kids (my own and my students)

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Matthew 5:6

Have a wonderful week!